Alderman Gardiner says he’s focused on improving streets rather than City Hall politics
by BRIAN NADIG
Addressing the infrastructure needs of the 45th Ward and improving postal delivery in Chicago were discussed at the May 29 meeting of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association.
About 80 people came out to hear the guest speakers, Alderman Jim Gardiner (45th) and U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (D-5).
Gardiner said that as alderman he plans to spend little time worrying about City Hall politics and instead will focus on improving streets, getting potholes filled and addressing other infrastructure problems which have been neglected for too long.
“I want to serve your needs, even if you think they’re minor,” Gardiner said. He added that he has been working with city agencies to address flooding in the 4200 block fo North Kilpatrick Avenue.
Even though the 45th Ward is one of the city’s largest in terms of land size, it receives the same amount of annual discretionary funds — $1.32 million — for infrastructure improvements as the other wards, Gardiner said. The cost for resurfacing a residential block averages $73,000, he said.
State officials have been contacted in an effort to identify grants for larger projects, Gardiner said.
On the mixed-income housing development at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy., Gardiner said that there is a need for affordable housing in Chicago and that he hopes existing ward residents can take advantage of the development but that housing laws prohibit a preference based on where an applicant resides.
A resident at the meeting raised a concern that former alderman John Arena had a ward advisory committee which reviewed zoning proposals but whose meetings were closed to the public.
In response, Gardiner said that he is formulating a zoning review process which will be transparent. “How can we do that and be productive,” he said. “I’d like to see Jefferson Park move to the next level like everyone else.”
The new ward office is located at 5425 W. Lawrence Ave., and Gardiner said that he hopes the office will signal a new beginning for the ward. “The last 60 days I’ve poured my heart into (remodeling) that office,” he said.
The location, across from the tennis courts at Jefferson Memorial Park, was chosen because it is centrally located in the ward and because its landlord is someone other than the Mega Group, which owns large commercial parcels in Downtown Jefferson Park and is planning to construct a 16-story building at 4849 N. Lipps Ave.
Gardiner explained that he wanted to avoid potential conflicts of interest by renting from the area’s main developer and commercial landlord, adding that he did not receive donations from developers during his recent aldermanic campaign.
Gardiner also reported that he will be serving on the following City Council committees: public safety, aviation, special events, rules and licensing/consumer protection.
Meanwhile, Quigley reported that a recent U.S. Postal Service Inspector General report on service at the Graceland Carrier Annex, 3635 N. Lincoln Ave., will hopefully lead to improved postal delivery service throughout the city. The Graceland review was conducted in response to concerns from Quigley, according to the U.S. Postal Service.
Many of the delivery problems are related to the use of substitutes, Quigley said.
“It basically means you get a different carrier every night,” Quigley said. “If you have a regular carrier, most people like their regular carrier.”
The inspector general report found that mail was not be processed fast enough at the Chicago distribution center, leading to delayed shipments of mail to the Graceland annex and forcing carriers to start their routes on the average one hour 47 minutes late.
The report also concluded that packages were not being scanned properly as to their status, including undelivered packages which were being incorrectly classified as “attempted-no access.”
The next association meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 26, at the Congregational Church of Jefferson Park, 5320 W. Giddings St.